The Arts Club, in London’s Dover Street in the heart of private-equity Mayfair, is worthy of luxury recognition on many counts. First, whenever go you – if you are lucky enough to get in, that is – the place is not only filled with Beautiful People but with Worthwhile People (which is more, says the gal, than can be said for certain fluff-head clubs, which shall be nameless). The Arts Club, which can trace its roots to its 1863 founding in Hanover Square, not far away, must also be applauded for opening its own 16-room luxury hotel, in the form of super bedrooms above the actual club. Take the premium Penthouse Suite on the top, fifth, floor of the building that is now leased to Arts Club owners, financier Gary Landesberg and restaurateur and venture capitalist Arjun Waney. Designed by David d’Almada, who also did The Norman in Tel Aviv, the suite is absolutely gorgeous.
I simply wanted to touch everything from the smooth woodwork on the Art Deco chairs to the ultra-silkiness of the Beltrami bedlinens. Yes, the whole effect of the suite has a feeling of London’s The Beaumont about it, which is not surprising since Arts Club GM Remy Lysé, who was very much involved in the suite’s design, had previously worked for The Beaumont boss Jeremy King, at the Wolseley restaurant. Suite 15’s memory points include the suede-lined tray, discreet butler buttons placed around, and sensational lighting throughout. In the living room I had a big face that was a light. I liked having a Gaggenau pantry unit, with induction top, and an empty fridge as well as a minibar with unusual goodies that included Irish biscuits made by the Lawless famlly in Galway. A bottle of the hotel’s own-label 1863 Champagne is produced by François Moutard – its label says ‘The discovery of a good wine is increasingly better for mankind than the discovery of a new star, Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519’.
In the bathroom – above – the Art Deco lighting was spectacular, in fact the entire bathroom stood out, and for all the right reasons. Two basins not one is always an advantage. The Floris toiletries, which have easy-turn lids, are complemented by 250 ml-sized pump pots, which actually pump. There are plenty of towels, which really dry. Lighting for make-up was OK, and there was an illuminated magnifier. I could turn on the selected shower-head without getting my hands wet (levers not directly under the heads). And I loved the tub, a really solid affair, freestanding with an ancient, Roman-look head embellished on its side, with the letters A and C either side. Perhaps this head is supposed to be Leonardo da Vinci, the patron of the club. He is about the only big name not represented in the tomes temptingly placed around the suite. From Assouline I have books on Dior, lifestyles of Capri, Milan, St Tropez and Venice, and one of those gigantic mega-books, on its own stand, on the South Pole (another on its own stand is a Tauscher publication, on Hockney).
I coincided, at my visit to this luxury hotel, with the pre-opening of its latest offering, Leo’s supper club. What was honestly perhaps just a colourful basement venue was electrified by the crowd, a vivacious rainbow of good-lookers of indeterminate age and gender. One bean-pole with short blonde ponytail, slinky tomato-coloured jumpsuit and fur neck shawl, all above fairly high heels, was posing so that the hired photographers could take his picture yet again: a young woman in a 1950s circular skirt twirled if she could find a little bit of space, which was difficult. Leo’s, which was launched by peroxide-head singer Emeli Sandé, is, by the way, just for members and friends – as is the hotel. They have endless special events coming up in November: an evening of what advising actually means, with happenings by The Fellas, The London Essentials, Joanna Lumley, Heather Small, and a backstage tour of the Royal Opera House. So what is next here? The lovely summer-only garden will have a new retractable roof to make it year-round, I was told. A separate wellness facility, the other side of Dover Street, is scheduled. There are rumours of sibling Arts Clubs in London’s Canary Wharf and overseas in Dubai and Los Angeles. Do you know, if I lived in London I would get my name, quick, on the six-month waitlist to be considered for membership of The Arts Club, but then, of course, I would have no need to stay over. TOUR SUITE 15, BELOW